Eye on Extremism: October 21, 2022

AFP: Suspect In Charlie Hebdo Attack Gets Life Sentence On Appeal

“A man accused of helping find weapons for the jihadist gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in France eight years ago was given a life sentence after his appeal trial, a judicial source said Thursday. Ali Riza Polat, 37, who contests the charges of complicity in a terrorist attack, was originally handed a 30-year sentence in December 2020. A second suspect who appealed his 20-year sentence for conspiring with the attackers, Amar Ramdani, 41, was again found guilty but saw his sentence reduced to 13 years. Twelve people were massacred at Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices on January 7, 2015, by the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who said they were acting on behalf of Al-Qaeda to avenge the paper's decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. A day later, Amedy Coulibaly killed a 27-year-old police officer during a traffic check outside Paris, before killing four Jewish men during a hostage-taking at the Hyper Cacher supermarket on January 9, claiming to act in the name of the Islamic State group. All three were killed by police, and in December 2020 a French court convicted 14 people of helping to carry out the attacks. Polat and Ramdani were the only ones to appeal their convictions. Polat's new sentence carries a minimum jail time of 20 years before he can be eligible for parole.”

The Washington Post: ISIS Fighters Terrorize Mozambique, Threaten Gas Supply Amid Ukraine War

“The boy’s scars streak under his ears and circle his neck, dark razor marks left by the Islamic State militants who overran his village. The fighters tried to recruit him. When he refused, the torture began. He was 13. But the boy’s deepest trauma surfaces when he talks about what happened to his uncle. His eyes dim and his voice gets low, almost disappearing in the breeze. “They beheaded my uncle that day, along with others,” recalled R.A., who is now 16 and living in a refugee camp. “He was begging for help, but I could do nothing. I was too scared. I could hear the machete striking him. I could hear his screams.” In northern Mozambique, one of the Islamic State’s newest branches is fueling a brutal insurgency that has raged out of sight in small villages and remote forests since late 2017. Women are kidnapped and kept as sex slaves, boys are forced to become child soldiers, beheadings are weapons of terror. The conflict has claimed about 4,000 lives; nearly 1 million people have fled their homes, separating countless families. Victims shared their stories with The Washington Post on the condition that they be identified only by their first names, and, in R.A.’s case, by his initials, because his first name is uncommon. They still live in fear of the militants. The violence and instability also threaten one of the world’s most lucrative deposits of natural gas.”

United States

NBC News: Should Cuba Be On The U.S. List Of State Sponsors Of Terrorism? Former Intelligence Officials Say No

“Along with Iran, Syria and North Korea, Cuba is listed as a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the U.S. Department of State. The designation subjects it to sanctions “that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba,” according to the State Department. Scared of being accused of abetting terror and being hit by mammoth fines, most banks refuse to process Cuban payments, cementing the Caribbean nation’s pariah status in the international financial system. “It’s lethal,” said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez when asked about the designation’s effects at a press conference in Havana on Wednesday. He added that the listing prevents people from sending remittances to the country from abroad, and raises the price of vital products the country buys on the world market. Cuba has called the sponsor of terrorism designation “illegitimate and immoral,” arguing that it deprives it of financing and credit sources. The country is grappling with shortages in a moribund economy that has been buffeted by the pandemic, U.S. sanctions and the decades long embargo and a global rise in food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet, according to half a dozen interviews with former intelligence analysts and officials who worked on Cub policy in both Republican and Democratic administrations, the “consensus position” in the U.S. intelligence community has for decades been that the communist-led nation does not sponsor terrorism.”

Syria

Reuters: Syria's Raqqa In Slow Rebound 5 Years Since Islamic State Defeat

“Five years since Islamic State was driven from its Syrian headquarters at Raqqa, the city is still slowly recovering from the devastation caused by the battle between U.S.-backed forces and the jihadists. Today, badly damaged buildings bear testament to the battle for the city that culminated in October 2017 with Islamic State's defeat, a key moment in the demise of its self-declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq. Ragheb Abeid, who still lives in a partially destroyed home, said that after Raqqa's liberation, people were “scared at the sight of the destruction, especially at night when the power went off”. He said a good amount of the city was rebuilt after the liberation but work had since slowed due to a collapse of the Syrian pound, which fell precipitously some three years ago. “The price of materials began to increase,” he said. Still, there is a semblance of normalcy in the streets where Islamic State once paraded military vehicles and staged executions. Public parks are open, the streets are busy with traffic, and pedestrians stroll along a parade of shops. Islamic State was defeated at Raqqa by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by air strikes mounted by the U.S.-led coalition. The battle left entire districts in ruins. In 2019, Amnesty International and the monitoring group Airwars said the U.S.-backed assault to drive Islamic State from Raqqa killed more than 1,600 civilians.”

Al Monitor: Syrian Government Retaliates For Killing Of Soldiers By Islamic State

“At least 18 Syrian soldiers were killed in an IED explosion targeting a military bus in the suburb of al-Saboura in the countryside of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Oct. 13. The state-run Syrian news agency, SANA, quoted an unnamed military source as saying that a bus carrying military troops was hit on the morning of Oct. 13 in a “terrorist attack” that left 18 soldiers dead and 27 others wounded. On the same day, Imad Nuseirat, a journalist for the Syrian government’s Tishreen newspaper, published a picture of the explosion site in al-Saboura suburb. No party has claimed responsibility for the attack as of yet. A military source close to the Syrian government forces who is based in Damascus’ countryside told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The targeted bus belongs to the Fourth Armored Division led by Maher al-Assad, the brother of President Bashar al-Assad.” The source added, “Al-Saboura suburb has served as the stronghold of the Fourth Armored Division for many years. The area has not witnessed any military operations since 2011.” “It is a secured zone with the exception of some sporadic explosions targeting the Fourth Armored Division on the roads inside the area,” the source said. The attack coincided with the escalating attacks by the Islamic State (IS) since the beginning of 2022 in the countryside of Damascus, namely in al-Kiswah area.”

Middle East

Asharq Al-Awsat: Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Who Shot Dead Soldier

“A Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier earlier this month was shot dead Wednesday after opening fire at a security guard at a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem, Israel’s prime minister said. Yair Lapid said Uday Tamimi, from the Shuafat refugee camp near Jerusalem who was the subject of a more than weeklong manhunt, was killed by Israeli security forces. Police commander Uzi Levy told reporters that Tamimi opened fire at security guards at the entrance of Maale Adumim. Levy said that Tamimi was armed with a pistol and was carrying an explosive device. Paramedics said a security guard was treated for a gunshot wound to the hand. On Oct. 8, Tamimi allegedly fired at a checkpoint from close range, killing a 19-year-old female Israeli soldier and severely wounding a security guard before disappearing toward Shuafat. Israeli security forces placed a cordon around the refugee camp in east Jerusalem as the manhunt dragged on for days. Lapid said that Israel “will act with a heavy hand and not hesitate against terror.” Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the militant Hamas group that controls Gaza, said the killing of Tamimi will not stop the uprising in the West Bank. Tamimi “will remain a national Palestinian icon,” he said, The Associated Press reported. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2015.”

Nigeria

Reuters: At Least 23 Killed In Nigeria After Herdsmen Attack Villagers

“Clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the Nigerian state of Benue left at least 23 people dead, a local official said on Thursday, the latest deadly incident fuelled by growing pressure on land resources in Africa's most populous country. Violence between farmers and pastoralists has become increasingly common in recent years as population growth leads to an expansion of the area dedicated to farming, leaving less land available for open grazing by nomads' herds of cattle. Kertyo Tyounbur, chairman of the Ukum local government area of Benue where the violence took place, gave a death toll of 23. Local resident William Samson said the trouble started on Tuesday when villagers killed two herders and stole their cattle. This was followed by a reprisal attack by herdsmen on Wednesday on the village of Gbeji, he said. Reuters could not verify his account from other sources in the remote rural area. Benue is one of Nigeria's Middle Belt states, where the majority Muslim North meets the predominantly Christian South. Competition over land use is particularly intractable in the Middle Belt as the fault lines between farmers and herders often overlap with ethnic and religious divisions. The Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast has worsened the problem by driving herders into the Middle Belt and further south, analysts say, while climate change and increasing aridity in the North are also contributing factors.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Somali Troops Take Villages From Al-Shabaab

“The government forces have wrestled control of a number of villages from the Al-Shabab following an operation assisted by local militia. Early on Wednesday morning, the troops moved into Warkulan, Bakajeh, Galef, War-Isse, Qordhere, and Jilabley located on Jowhar-Raga-El highway in the Middle Shabelle region. Al-Shabaab militants left the areas before the arrival of the SNA, and there was no confrontation during the takeover, which took place in a peaceful manner. Somali soldiers along with allied militia are making efforts to dislodge Al-Shabaab from the remaining areas under its control. The government claims victory over the current war.”

Africa

Bloomberg: Suspected Islamist Militants Attack Ruby Mine In Northeastern Mozambique

“Shares in Gemfields Group Ltd. fell more than a fifth in Johannesburg after an attack by suspected Islamic State-linked insurgents on a ruby mine near its operations in northern Mozambique prompted the company to evacuate staff. The raid took place on an operation 12 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of Gemfields’s 75%-owned Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada, or MRM, early on Thursday, the company said in a statement. Its shares dropped as much as 21% -- the most since Feb. 7 -- and were 7.4% lower at 3.11 rand by 1:05 p.m. in Johannesburg. “MRM has initiated the process of evacuating operational employees and contractors, and therefore mining operations at the site have ceased,” Gemfields said. “Security personnel and Mozambique police force remain on site and Mozambique military are arriving on site.” The attack is the latest in five years of violence in northeastern Mozambique that’s left at least 4,332 people dead and displaced almost 1 million others. The conflict in the resource-rich Cabo Delgado province has also held up natural-gas projects worth tens of billions of dollars, even as prices for the fuel soared this year as European nations scramble to find alternative supplies because of Russia’s war with Ukraine. While foreign troops have helped improve security in over the past year, the attack on the ruby mine shows small groups are still able to target foreign-owned businesses.”

AFP: Facing Threat, Togo Forces Simulate 'Jihadist' Attack

“Togo's security forces on Thursday carried out a simulated jihadist attack in the capital Lome, training to counter a hostage-taking as the country faces increasing threats. Togo and neighbouring West African coastal states like Ghana, Benin and Ivory Coast are preparing for growing spillover from Islamist militant conflicts across their northern borders in Niger and Burkina Faso. On Thursday, a restaurant called “Noudoudou-a-gnon” in Lome's Adidogome district was attacked by a “commando” of police disguised as six heavily armed militants, who opened fire and took hostages. Two instructors from the French National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) oversaw the exercise. It was the first simulation exercise since Togo recorded the first in a series of attacks from November 2021, and at least four more since then in its far northern border region. Togo's Security Minister General Damehame Yark said the exercise was part of “measures so that we can face this threat” in the region. The exercise is part of a training course in “specialised intervention techniques”. It also used a gendarme drone unit to help “neutralise” the militants and free the hostages. The country was hit in mid-July by a bloody attack carried out by “unidentified armed individuals”, according to the army, which reported “several dead and a few wounded.”

Europe

Reuters: Sweden To Deeply Involve Itself In NATO's Counter-Terrorism Work, PM Says

“Sweden will involve itself more clearly and deeply in NATO's counter-terrorism activities, the country's recently appointed Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a joint news conference with NATO's secretary general on Thursday.”

Technology

The Herald- Record: After Supermarket Mass Shooting, NY Attorney General Wants Online Sites Held Accountable

“The livestream of a gunman killing 10 shoppers in a Buffalo grocery store in May was recorded and posted online by a single individual across the country in Washington state, who was one of about just 30 viewers. But by the time a 4chan moderator removed the post about 30 minutes later, the video had already been downloaded and reposted thousands of times, a state investigation revealed this week. New York Attorney General Letitia James is calling for legislative reforms that she said would restrict the livestreaming of violence and hold loosely moderated online platforms accountable for allowing “hateful and extremist views to proliferate online, leading to radicalization and violence.” The memorial around the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Ave. in Buffalo, NY on June 17, 2022. The memorial commemorated the people the people who were killed in a racially motivated attack by a gunman May 14. In a report Tuesday, James said the 19-year-old gunman was both a product and perpetrator of online extremism. In hundreds of pages written by the shooter, he outlined how discussions and videos of other mass shootings found on unmoderated platforms fostered his racist and violent beliefs and helped him prepare for the attack at Tops Friendly Market on May 14. He then turned to the same platforms to broadcast it, livestreaming the shooting and posting the 180-page document online to encourage copycats.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

Without doubt, the secularists are evil and more malicious than the polytheists and secularism is farther astray from the path and more malicious than polytheism. The secularists who are associated with Islam even [merely] by identity are considered apostates by a group of scholars. The Jews, Christians, those who worship graves, and many polytheists and unbelievers have committed lesser acts of unbelief than the secularists.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Salafist propagandist Mar. 1, 2021
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